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NASA Mars Mission: NASA launches Mars Perseverance Rover 2020, to reach Mars by February 2021

NASA Perseverance Launch:The Mars Perseverance Rover launch is so far successful with all functions operating as expected.

Jul 30, 2020 17:41 IST
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NASA Perseverance Launch: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched its most awaited space mission- Mars Perseverance Rover 2020 at 5.20 pm IST on July 30, 2020. The Perseverance Rover has been launched aboard Atlas V-541 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. 

The Perseverance Rover launch is so far successful with all functions operating as expected. The rocket has separated from the first stage and it is being boosted to its orbit by the Centaur second stage. The Perseverance rover is now preparing for a second burn that will put it on a trajectory towards Mars. 

The launch happened right on schedule with weather conditions turning favourable. The Mars rover was originally supposed to be launched earlier in the month but was delayed because of technical issues. 

What is Mars Perseverance Rover?

The Perseverance rover is a six wheeled robot that will be tasked with deploying first-ever interplanetary helicopter- ‘Ingenuity’ and testing out equipment for future manned mission and searching for traces of past Martian life. 

Perseverance Rover Launch: Key Highlights

The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover was launched aboard Atlas V-541 rocket from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at the first launch opportunity at 7.50 am EDT on July 30th. 

The Atlas V is one of the largest rockets available for an interplanetary flight. It is similar to the one that launched the InSight and Curiosity rover to Mars. The launch vehicle has been provided by Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance.

The launch windows last approximately for two hours, with a unique launch opportunity every five minutes.

When will NASA’s Perseverance Rover reach Mars?

The Mars Perseverance Rover is expected to reach Mars in February 2020, about the same time as UAE’s and China’s Mars missions. 

Where will Mars Perseverance Rover land?

The Perseverance Rover is scheduled to land at the Jezero crater, which is about 250 meters deep. The crater is a former lake from 3.5 billion years ago and scientists believe that it could hold traces of potential past microbial Martian life.

What will be the main mission objective of Perseverance Rover?

Perseverance Rover Mission Objectives:

NASA’s Perseverance Rover is unlike any other robot or rover sent to Mars because it will help find traces of ancient life of the red planet. 

The Perseverance rover will attempt to bring Martian rock samples back to Earth by collecting samples in cigar-sized capsules and scattering them on the surface for a possible retrieval by a future rover by around 2031.

The rover will also carry out an experiment to convert elements of the carbon dioxide-rich Martian atmosphere into propellant for future rockets or to produce breathable oxygen for future astronauts.

Ingenuity Helicopter 

The Perseverance Rover will be carrying an autonomous mini helicopter called Ingenuity, which weighs 1.8 kg. The helicopter will  test powered flight on Mars for the first time. 

What is “seven minutes of terror”?

The mission engineers have referred to one of the one of the most complex maneuvers in Perseverance's journey as "seven minutes of terror," when the robot will endure extreme heat and speed during its descent through the Martian atmosphere. 

The rover will be deploying a set of supersonic parachutes before igniting mini rocket engines to gently touch down on the planet's surface.

Background 

NASA's first Mars rover -Sojourner had landed on the red planet way back in 1997. The space agency then sent two more rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which helped reveal the geology of the Martian plains and found evidence of past water formations.NASA also has successfully launched three Mars landers - Pathfinder, Phoenix, InSight.

On November 26, 201, NASA had launched the Curiosity rover, which landed on Aeolis Palus inside Gale crater. Initially meant to be a two-year mission, the rover’s mission life was extended indefinitely in December 2012. The rover’s main objective has been to investigate the Martian climate and geology and find traces of microbial life including role of water. 

The curiosity rover is still operational and it recently discovered an ancient oasis on Mars. The rover collected new evidence that suggested presence of salty and shallow ponds on the red planet. The Curiosity rover’s study and findings will serve as a basis for the Perseverance Rover. 

With the launch of Perseverance Rover, the United States will become the third nation to launch a space probe to Mars, after the UAE and China, which launched separate Mars probes earlier this month. Both UAE and China attempt to make their first successful landing on the red planet. 

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